Why Should I Trust You, Anyway?

The "Fast Lane" Answer

Okay, so we're making some inconceivable promises with our address validation and geocoding service, especially with regard to our speed. And we've got a host of articles relevant to our services, and sometimes to programming/developing in general, embedded with jokes so bad they might as well be "dad jokes." And you're thinking, "Who are these guys? Why should I believe them? What makes them so special?"

Well, we do have our PhD in Awesome, but that's beside the point.

The number-one reason you should trust us is this: we've got nothing to hide. In regards to our service, we're not afraid to let you take it out for a spin. Our advertised free usage is 250 requests a month, but don't let that stop you if you want to test a bigger batch—a quick call on our direct line to our support team can get you talking to someone who can help you try out something heftier. It's the old "We're so confident in our product…" gag, but it's true. Once you've seen the work we do, and how fast we can do it, we figure you're only walking away if we absolutely can't meet your needs (in which case, we'll help you find someone who can; more on that later).

And as for our articles, we do our research. Any fact-checking on your part will bring up much of the same material we used to do the research. We draw from extensive industry experience—in both address data and computer programming—and we study the methods and tools of other providers to keep abreast of trends and how to help users, regardless of their current providers. It's all information that comes straight out of the real world. And you don't have to take our word for it. You can ask people who really do use us. You might even know some of them—like DHL, Time Warner Cable, Deloitte, and American Red Cross.

The jokes, though...those are ours.

The "Scenic Route" Answer

We obviously want to look good (who doesn't?), and since you're giving us an opportunity to talk ourselves up, we put together as big of a list as we could think of. Some of it may not apply to you. Some of it may not seem relevant. But we promise, it's all important stuff.

1) Our business is reliable data.

You simply can't have bad data in this industry. Incorrect addresses, addresses validating when they shouldn't, garbled or difficult-to-process output, geocodes that lead to imaginary locations; sometimes even big names make these mistakes. That's why customers are often looking for an alternative.

We have three primary focuses in our effort to supply our customers with what they need: speedy processing, reliable service (both in our API and in tech support), and trustworthy data. The first two pretty much mean diddly-squat if the last one doesn't happen. So we want you to be able to take your data and put it right to work, with the confidence that it's not going to steer you wrong.

That focus on data reliability has gotten us pretty far. It's even attracted some big-name attention. We don't mean to brag, but . . .

2) Big companies (like American Red Cross) trust us.

When a friend recommends a book, movie, or TV show, you trust their judgement enough to try it. A key part of trusting something new is hearing recommendations from someone you trust. If you trust them, and they trust us, then you can trust us too.

We've got a good-sized list people who trust us, of which American Red Cross is only one name. Our other customers include DHL, Time Warner, and Foursquare to name a few. You can take a more in-depth look here. The people on that list went with a trustworthy provider: a clear indicator of sound judgment.

3) We give our competitors a fair shake.

In the rare situation where we can't meet your needs, we're willing to send you to someone else if they can help you better than we can. No, really.

Our first priority isn't making money. It's true. Our biggest thrill is taking such good care of our customers that they become raving fans. We happen to do that through address validation. And because our purpose is making sure you get the validation you need, we're willing to send you wherever we can to help you get it. It just makes more sense to us, and it helps us sleep at night.

See, if we're willing to help you look at other providers, but you don't find anything better than us out there, you're more likely to come back to us—due at least in part to the friendly service we offered in trying to help you shop around.

In either case, we want to leave a good impression. It goes back to being honest about ourselves; we're all pretty stand-up people here.

And you know, all this talk about doing a good job reminds us of something. . . .

4) If we don't maintain high quality service, we don't maintain customers.

Some businesses can more or less get away with offering you poor quality products, or sub-standard service. We don't want to name any names, but there's a number of famous businesses that fit this description. We all go there when we want to pay as little as possible, especially when we don't care how long it lasts.

We don't work in an industry where we can get away with that. Giving you bad information—about the industry, about our service, or especially about the address data we return to you—is a bad idea. As a matter of fact, a good portion of our recurring customers are the people we previously directed to other providers (in an effort to help them find what they need; see above) who received bad data or poor service from someone else. Remembering how helpful we are, they return and sign up for our service.

The address validation industry is really competitive, but a lot of providers seem to put profits before customers. This takes many forms. Some compensate for incorrect or inaccurate data with warehouse prices. Some have deplorable customer service, throttled usage, or snail-like speeds, so they require that you sign up for an account before offering you more information on their service. These are things that drive customers away as soon as they find them out.

We don't allow ourselves the same margin of error. We're able to offer you the best possible service because we've developed, and are constantly improving, the best possible system.

5) We're knowledgeable about things ... lots of things.

Starting with our company's founder, who started dinking around MS-DOS when he was 8, the entire SmartyStreets company and culture has been built around being ridiculously awesome at what we do. And we're not just talking about address validation or programming.

We're talking a developer who's fluent in piano and a former film composer so cool he has his own entry on IMDB. We have animators and an avid juggling enthusiast, and... well, Neo knows kung fu jiu jitsu.

We're talking an office manager making a cake for every office birthday. From scratch. Like multiple layers, with the frosting and everything.

And we're talking a marketing department that is trained in hypnosis. Most of us have our tinfoil hats on, but Jefferson still imagines pink elephants in tutus whenever someone snaps their fingers.

The point is, we all have skills and talents that we bring to the company that expand our knowledge base. It gives us the answers to a lot of different questions, and it helps us give those answers like human beings, rather than like blank-slate, mindless drones. And speaking of drones. . . .

6) We're a company run by developers for developers.

If you're reading this, you're probably the guy people call when there's a computer to plug in fix. We know what you need, because we go to Stack Exchange with questions just like you do. (We answer a lot of questions there, too). And we know that you were likely given the assignment to find an address validation or geocode provider by someone who has never heard the term API.

So we answer the kinds of questions you're going to have. We give you a short and sweet version in case you're in a rush, then we give you a TL;DR in case you want an explanation from the ground up (there's bound to be some topic you're unfamiliar with, after all). It's all designed to help you make better use of the technology you need to get your job done.

And if you're not a developer, we're here to make complicated things simpler. We have people here at SmartyStreets who aren't developers, and they ask us questions all the time. So we've got a good barometer for when we're talking over somebody's head, and we get a lot of practice explaining to those not in the know. In some cases the short answer is intended to give you just enough info to speed you on your way. In others, like the API link above, the long answer is intended to give you a better grasp on the topic, so you're not confused the next time a developer uses some of those terms.

So whether you're a developer or layman, we know enough to answer your questions with helpfulness and clarity. Which leads us to our next stellar attribute. . . .

7) We're not boring

(Okay, maybe not a reason to trust us, but still a reason we're awesome)

There's something a little disconcerting about someone who's too professional. Didn't we all hate it back in our junior-year English class when our teacher wouldn't let us use words like "you" and "I" in papers? Obviously we were creators of content, and obviously someone was going to read that content. Why couldn't Mrs. Jones just admit that and move on?

Of course, that was a total generalization. In no way was it referencing someone specific. At all.

So we imagine that you (like us) get at least a little hesitant when someone tries to act too impersonal and business-like. It feels like they're selling something, like they're suppressing their own personality or replacing it. You want professionals who are good at their job, of course, but not ones who will abandon you as soon as you cut the check.

So we wear our goofiness on our sleeve, and we use words like "you." We use "we" instead of "I," but that's largely because it makes us feel like the Grand Poobah. And we crack a lot of bad jokes. We want you to feel comfortable working with us, and if we happen to relate address validation to Star Wars (more on that later), well then at least we're being internally consistent.

8) We're a small business, not driven by investors or corporate goals.

As stated above, our purpose is not to make money (because the best things in life are free). Our purpose is to care for a rather narrow niche of needs for our customers. And as long as we're doing that, we can be satisfied with the money we earned, because it was earned the right way.

We don't have to ask ourselves "What's corporate going to think?" or "Will the shareholders like that?" All we have to worry about is "Will this help our customers?" And what helps our customers more than anything is when they can trust us; not just the company or even our services, but the data itself. That's why you might say that our customers are our "shareholders," and you earn interests on your investments every time we upgrade our system or add a new feature. Like supporting international addresses.

And now for something completely different...

9) We've got nothing to hide.

(except maybe our shamelessly bad dance moves)

If a company needs to hide details of their product or service in order to sell it, then it's not a good enough product. We want you to know all the facts, so you can accurately determine if we meet your needs. Read our articles and documentation. Call or email us and ask as many questions as you have; we're happy to help. Test our service, and try to break our system. We accept the challenge.

And speaking of issuing challenges. . . .

10) We think Star Wars is cooler than Star Trek.*

(Is there any better indicator of a sound, rational mind?)

Perhaps an undervalued attribute when looking for a service or a provider of any sort is the soundness of their judgment. Why should it be valued? Because companies make changes. They modify their standards and change their protocols. Even the USPS changes things as big as ZIP Codes. And when those changes happen, wouldn't you like to be able to trust that those changes will reflect good sense? That they won't negatively impact you because they didn't plan properly or evaluate the options correctly?

Well, you can trust us. You might notice this as a bit of a theme for this article.

The above section header is a prime example of our wisdom in action. Other examples include our decision not to throttle traffic. At all. Ever. In any way. Or the decision not to restrict the usage of the data you purchase from us (which, incidentally, is what's happening when you give us money for us to give you data—some companies don't get that part). Or the decision to add international data. The list goes on, but the point is the same. We make these decisions to benefit you, not because it makes it more convenient for us.

So we make sound decisions here at SmartyStreets. We know our stuff, and we're always cooking up new ways to make our system better for you.

If you need further proof of good judgment, just remember this: we decided to make it easier for you non-programmers out there by ending the list on "10" rather than a nice round "8."

Because You Can

In the end, the proof is in the pudding. You can trust us because you can trust us (and this one's not a recursive loop), and if you need empirical proof, just put us to the test. Use our service. Read some of our articles. Call in and chat with our customer service. Do whatever it takes to satisfy your curiosity, your anxiety, or your boss. We trust us, and we trust that the only reason you'll go looking somewhere else after running us through the ringer is if we flat out don't offer a service that you can't live without. And even then, we'll find a way to help you get what you want.

Trust us. We're on your side. We're SmartyStreets.

*Disclaimer: no Trekkies were physically harmed in the making of this article. Their feelings may have been, though.

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